How to Sunrise Hike from Home

This is a guest post courtesy of Celia Binder

OK, so you can’t actually hike up a mountain and stay home at the same time.

Just wanted to clear that up from the start. Unless you happen to be some kind of billionaire who owns a mountain. In that case, congrats. You’re quite lucky. Maybe that’s you. If it is, you can go ahead and close this page. Go ahead, I won’t be mad. In fact, I’m stoked for you. Just do me a favor and click that little X hanging out in the top right corner of your screen, then shut your laptop, and go outside.

Trust me, it’s way better.

Or maybe you’re lucky enough to live in a sweet mountain town with a great local burrito joint offering curbside pickup and dozens of mountains to hike or bike or ski, all while staying socially distant from other people and close to home. In that case, see paragraph one, and don’t forget to tip the burrito guy.

Or maybe you do live near some sweet mountains… but all the national parks in your area are closed. And the state parks. And the hiking trails, the biking trails, the crags, and the ski resorts. Maybe you don’t live near the mountains at all. Maybe you’re like me and just canceled your flight to start what would have been your first long-distance hike. Bummer.

You know what would make things feel a whole lot better right about now?

A sunrise hike. Nothing like a sweaty race against the sun to cure the cabin fever.

Sunrise hikes are the best hikes, and for a whole list of reasons:

  1. Watch the sky change colors.
  2. Beat the trailhead crowds.
  3. Drink hot coffee from a thermos.
  4. Eat doughnuts on a summit.
  5. Feel epic.
  6. Look super cool on Instagram, etc.

If I’m given the choice between extra sleep and two hours of trudging up a steep slope to watch the sun come up, I will always choose the latter. If that’s you too, and like me you haven’t quite made your way to mountaintop billionaire just yet, then here’s a way to get a bit of that epic mountain sunrise feeling, safely, from home.

5 a.m. Alarm goes off in the dark. Shit. Why am I doing this again? Maybe I can lie here for another minute…

5:03 a.m. Second alarm goes off. The just-in-case alarm. OK, the first of many. Shit, really time to get up now. Get out of bed. Gear up. Put on wool socks, slippers, and a favorite hoodie (preferable all cotton). Grab an iPhone for a flashlight and stumble to the kitchen.

5:05 a.m. Start brewing coffee. A whole pot. Why not? You’re up early, before the sun. That deserves some recognition.

5:07 a.m. With coffee mug in hand and slippers on, take five steps to the kitchen table, sit down, open laptop. 

5:09 a.m. Using the powers of the internet and a jolt of caffeine, open web browser to the Whiteface Mountain Summit Cam

5:10 a.m. – 5:49 a.m. Enjoy the live stream of the sun rising over mountains. Sit back. Sip coffee. Watch the sky change from a black abyss to a pink and orange hue. Look at the clouds going by. Think about how close the fridge is. Isn’t that nice.

Don’t forget to refresh the browser every minute for an updated view.

5:50 a.m. Well, technically it’s sunrise, but the sky is still changing colors every minute, although now it’s mostly blue. It’s beautiful, even through a screen. Note how peaceful and quiet it is. Are those birds chirping? Think: why don’t I get up at 5 a.m. every day? Sip more coffee. Forget to refresh the browser. Refresh the browser.

6 a.m. Alright, I’ve been up for an hour. The sun is up. It’s breakfast time. Reheat coffee in the microwave. Start cooking. 

You could do all these things and watch a wonderful sunrise of your own. Or, you could watch the 14-second time lapse I made of sunrise on Whiteface Mountain on April 29 2020, while sitting at my kitchen table, wearing slippers, and sipping coffee.

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Hey. I’m Celia. I’m a hiker, an illustrator, and a lifelong tomboy. I’ve worked in the outdoor industry since 2017. My pronouns are she/her. Check out my cartoons and illustrations @celiafromwork

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Comments 4

  • Chris Andrus : May 1st

    Great blog, and article, Celia!

    Woodswomyn recommended you.

    : )


  • Russ1663 : May 2nd

    Hi Celia. I live in the flat lands 40 miles from the Atlantic coast, just north of Williamsburg VA. Ground here has 100′ elevations. I am missing the mountains; that said, state parks are open, some county parks and the Colonial Parkway. CP is 23 miles long Yorktown to Jamestown. At Jamestown is the trail head for the Va Capital Trail, 52 miles of bike/hike trail leading to Richmond. Plenty of places to get deep enough into the woods and have almost no man-made sound. Oh, that White Mountain sunrise clip was great. I had to postpone my trip for a section hike but I feel bad for those who had prepped so long for a thru hike and had to stop. Mine was Damascus to Marion with a side of Va Creeper Trail. Best of luck.

  • Tammi aka Cray : May 5th

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Was looking forward to many sunrises on my AT thru. I needed this right now. Again, thank you.


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